Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
Sport | By Stuart Potter

Slovenia downs USA 3-2 in opening round of men's hockey

Slovenia downs USA 3-2 in opening round of men's hockey

The Olympic Athletes from Russian Federation, meanwhile, shot out to a 2-0 lead over Slovakia in the first five minutes of the first period, only to concede two goals in short order later in the period and eventually fall 3-2 in regulation. At the 2014 Games, the US lost in the bronze-medal game.

Randi Griffin, Korea: The crowd was sent into a frenzy when Griffin's wrist shot trickled past the Japanese goaltender to pull Korea within one goal.

It is the first Winter Olympic men's hockey tournament in 24 years without NHL players.

Which in all likelihood makes Thursday's (Wednesday night on the West Coast) first-round game between the sport's two superpowers at Kwandong Hockey Centre a sneak preview of the Games' gold medal final next Thursday. Since the 1998 Nagano Games, the world's best hockey players meet every four years in the ultimate display of national pride and for worldwide bragging rights. Captain Brian Gionta is the most accomplished American, with 15 National Hockey League seasons and a Stanley Cup on his resume.

As Team USA sat back in the hockey-equivalent of a prevent defense, Slovenia began peppering US goalie Ryan Zapolski with shots throughout the third period.

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It's a far cry from the likes of Patrick Kane, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, and Johnny Gaudreau, but the same goes for pretty much every team in the tournament.

Only once has a team other than the USA or Canada made the Olympic or Worlds title games. Bobby Sanguinetti's sharp-angled shot created the rebound opportunity for Greenway.

Greenway corralled a loose puck on the side of the goal, had an open net and buried it. But the Americans kill off a Jordan Greenway penalty thanks to a few big saves from Ryan Zapolski. O'Neill's late goal is something for the Americans to build on in the second.

But things changed in the third period.

Forward Garret Roe made a nifty pass from behind the net to set up Brian O'Neil at 14:44 of the opening period to give U.S. a 1-0 lead. Team Canada has taken the last four Olympic gold medals, with the US winning the 1998 Games.

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